“Progress is the development of order,” wrote Auguste Comte in the Catechisme positiviste. “Progress consists of nothing but the development of order,” he reiterated in the Discours sur l’ensemble du positivisme. Some 130 years later, in 1968, Robert McNamara, president of the World Bank and former secretary of state and of defense under John Kennedy, wrote: “Security is development and without development there can be no security.”1
The expansion of the great powers in the nineteenth century took place under the banner of “civilization.” A civilizing mission was assumed by the merchant, the soldier, and the missionary. In the name of Western civilization, numerous peoples were denied the right to govern themselves. World War I had renewed the alibi of an imperial and colonial order. It appears clearly, for example, in President Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” speech delivered on January 8, 1918, and in the founding treaty of the League of Nations signed in June of 1919. In its first statements, the League spoke of “peoples not yet capable of governing themselves in the particularly difficult conditions of the modern world,” adding that “the well-being and development of these peoples form a sacred mission of civilization,” and suggesting, “the best method of realizing this principle is to confide the care of these people to the developed nations.” The notion of “development” here remains very close to that of “civilization,” and belongs more to the cultural and social domain than to the economic. It was only gradually that the slide to the latter took place. Some League of Nations texts refer timidly to economic
development in the 1930s, but it would not become a truly mobilizing concept until after World War II.
It was in 1949 that the notion of “development” appeared in the language of international relations, designating by its antonym - “underdevelopment” - the state of that part of the planet that did not yet have access to the benefits of progress (one of the three pillars of the religion of humanity, dear to Comte). The expression was born in the White House and passed into history via the 1949 State of the Union speech given by President Truman, in a section entitled “Point Four.” This program aimed to mobilize energies and public opinion to combat the great social disequilibria that threatened to open the door to world communism. The ideology of progress metamorphosed into the ideology of development. Communication and its technologies were called on to occupy a key position in the battle for development.
It was ten years later, in 1958, that the first book appeared on the possible contribution of the media to “development” of the “Third World”: The Passing of Traditional Society by Daniel Lerner, a specialist in psychological warfare and author of an earlier work entitled Sykewar: Psychological Warfare against Germany, D-Day to VE-Day (1949). The subtitle of his book on the waning of traditional society was Modernizing the Middle East,2 and the book contains survey results from six countries in the Middle East. It proposes to evaluate the exposure of different categories of the population to programs broadcast by international radio stations through 1,600 interviews performed in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iran. A seventh country, Iraq, was to be included, but the team of researchers had to interrupt its work there for political reasons. At the time, the region had been already classified by geopolitical analysts as strategic for reasons of “oil equilibrium.” In 1951, the Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh had nationalized the oil wells and refineries; two years later, he had been overthrown in a coup d’etat carried out with the complicity of the CIA. In 1956, the nationalization of the Suez Canal by Nasser in Egypt provoked a conflict with Israel, England, and France. The audience study used by Lerner had been commissioned in 1950 by Leo Lowenthal of the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University, directed by Paul Lazarsfeld. Lowenthal was responsible in the years 1949-54 for the “Evaluation of Radio Programs” branch of the International Broadcasting Service, which was under the auspices of the State Department. The actual purpose of this research, undertaken in 1950-1951, was to determine the position of Voice of America with respect to its direct competitors, above all the BBC and Radio Moscow. Armed with a research guide of some 50 pages, the native researchers, trained by a representative from Columbia on the spot, had interviewed some 325 people in Jordan for two to three hours. Divided into five categories (desert Bedouins, village farmers, the urban and rural bourgeoisie, and elites), the sample group had been questioned on its exposure to the media (radio, press, cinema) and on its opinions on local, national, and international affairs. Certain questions aimed to test the opinions of the sample group on the Korean War, the idea of “Soviet imperialism,” “American imperialism,” and the question of Palestine.3 But beyond the study of audiences, the aim of the research was to collect the most possible material for drawing up a typology of attitudes to “development.” It seemed natural to Lerner to apply mechanically what he had been taught by his research on psychological warfare as an intelligence officer in World War II. There he had discerned three categories: the “moderns” (assimilable to anti-Nazi categories) who were already converted and who best combined the three forms of mobility proper to modern society (physical, social, and psychic); the “traditionals” (identified as the Nazis in his previous studies); and the “transitionals” or “apoliticals,” the category of people most likely to respond to the propaganda effort.4 In this book as in the sectoral reports on this research, the term “Westernization” served as a password to define the modern attitude and the “cosmopolitan taste” of certain categories of audience.
Modernization = development: as soon as Daniel Lerner’s book became a classic, that equation was confirmed. It would be backed up by other later books: The Achieving Society by David McLelland (1961); Communications and Political Development (1963), published under the editorship of Lucian Pye; and Mass Media and National Development by Wilbur Schramm (1964).5 The latter book was even reissued by UNESCO and became a standard reference book for that organization throughout the decade. UNESCO, which began to concern itself seriously with the media after 1962, spared no effort to spread the theses of these authors by publishing in several languages an anthology of essays edited by Bert Hoselitz and Wilbert Moore under the title Industrialization and Society.6 The preeminence of American sociology in international circles aroused the British sociologist Jeremy Tunstall to make the following biting commentary: “Daniel Lerner, Ithiel de Sola Pool and Wilbur Schramm in the 1960s became a sort of travelling circus … advising first this Asian government and then that U.S. federal agency. Daniel Lerner was the intellectual leader of the circus. Ithiel de Sola Pool was the commissar of the group-one of the U.S. Department of Defense’s most vigorous academic spokesmen, and a vigorous anti-communist…. The third member of the circus was Schramm … the travelling salesman. Based at Stanford, Schramm in the 1960s became UNESCO’s favourite mass media ‘expert.’”7
Working within the tradition of individual psychology, Lerner developed the concept of empathy, which he defined as “psychic mobility” or “the ability to project oneself into the role of another.” The problem was to free “traditional” people from their inertia and fatalism by getting them to adopt the mobility that defined the modern attitude. A great many sociologists and political scientists attempted to draw up the portrait of the “modern man,” defined essentially by mental flexibility in the face of new situations and assimilation of the broad value orientations of Western industrial societies.8 In their own fashion they transposed and transformed into a ready-made formula the analyses of Max Weber on the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism, which saw in the “entrepreneur” a singular combination of the desire for personal achievement, innovative research, the spirit of competition, the quest for profit, and methodological honesty.9
Above and beyond its different variants, the theory of modernization exhibited a single matrix. Social change was defined as the linear passage between traditional society and modern society (industrial, urban, and Western). The negative pole concentrated within it all the handicaps: it was a society, culture, or personality that was static, homogeneous, frozen in time, governed by a single value system and by undifferentiated institutions, dominated by values beyond the individual-such as tradition, magic, divinity, ancestors, the sacred — and allergic to other cultures and little disposed to assimilate them. In short, it represented a society that completely resists cultural change. The other pole combined all the advantages for breaking free of that condition: modern society is driven by a conscious and voluntary transformation; change in such a society is an institutionalized, normal state of things, and it is required by the growing application of science and technology to all spheres of social life; values are no longer ascribed by tradition and accepted passively, but are modeled according to criteria of efficacy and rationality by an individual who is secularized and free to make choices. Modern society is open, turned outwards, and cosmopolitan; its institutions are specialized and segmented.
The first deficiency of this mode of understanding societies, which proceeds by establishing and confronting “ideal” types or “models,” is clearly that of not referring to anything but itself, since it is entirely a construct. The least one can object is that it leaves hidden in the shadows the epistemological and cultural premises of those who advance it. This is why, once it was applied in the field, it would soon run up against the resistance and opacity of the real. The problem with this evolutionary conception of development is not only its tendency to generalize and thus to deprive each Third World society of its history and align realities and cultures that are very dissimilar. A further problem is its aversion, bordering on contempt, to the “traditional,” which is seen as incapable of giving rise to anything else. Thus David Mclelland, who like most other representatives of the theory of modernization did research on the influence of the “need for achievement” (a concept very close to that of empathy) on economic growth, saw in traditional cultures, judged as affective and irrational, only obstacles to development. For this theoretician of the “achieving society” (modern society par exellence), “managerial” culture has no use for traditional cultures except perhaps to preserve them out of mere historic interest.
In this “smooth” vision of social change, the media occupy a central place: they are envisaged as agents of development, as producers of modern forms of conduct. They are bearers of the “revolution of rising expectations,” stimulated by models of consumption and aspirations displayed by those who have already acceded to the high stage in human evolution represented by modern society.
This thesis is synthesized in a text by Ithiel de Sola Pool published by UNESCO in English, French, and Spanish in 1963:
The propaganda in favor of modernism contained in commercial communications media is not solely intended to obtain sales for a particular brand of soap. It certainly aids this operation, but it would have neither audience nor effect if the communications media did not provide a product much richer in savor or excitement. Persuasion towards a particular choice is only part of a general argument for a totally modernized mode of life. The communications media, whose object is to open the market to new products and new interests, also present the image of a new kind of man in a new kind of milieu. As Marx underlined, the businessman is a revolutionary, even though this is not his intention. It is the mass media which transform what would otherwise be the unrealized dream of a few modernizers into the dynamic aspiration of a whole people.10
The media reflect technological and social modernity at the same time as they transmit it to elites. And both spread to the backward sectors of a country. On the one hand, the population is cut up into “reference groups” with different “opinion leaders,” and on the other, it is a passive mass. Here we rediscover in action the theory of persuasion by stages, developed two decades earlier by Lazarsfeld, Katz, and their collaborators in their research on the decision-making of electors as “consumers.”
The media act as “ferrymen” who bring traditional individuals across and onto the shores of “progress”-for this theory does basically rest on an idea of progress. This conception is well illustrated by economists of modernization such as Walt W. Rostow, who did not hesitate to subtitle his 1960 founding book on the stages of growth A Non-Communist Manifesto.11 Beginning with a historical analysis of the industrial development of England, he infers from it his linear model of “stages of development” through which each country must pass. The model was universal: every society seeking to undertake the transition from a “traditional society”-pre-Newtonian in its conception of science and technology to that of the “age of mass consumption” was obliged to repeat the industrialization experience of those that had preceded it. In moving gradually through these stages, it would accede to progress, measured essentially by the growth of the per capita gross domestic product. In this passage from one society and one economy to another, the so-called takeoff stage was crucial, since it was followed by development in the proper sense and then maturity, the threshold of the phase of high consumption. This evolutionist vision is not far from the “institutional phases” that, according to Daniel Lerner, all candidates for development had to cross: “Everywhere … increasing urbanization has tended to raise literacy; rising literacy has tended to increase media exposure; increasing media exposure has ‘gone with’ wider economic participation (per capita income) and political participation (voting). The model evolved in the West is an historical fact The same basic model reappears in virtually all modernizing societies on all continents of the world, regardless of variations in race, color and creed.”12
From this quantitative theory of development there flows an index approach, which would be seized upon by civil servants of international bodies such as UNESCO. The “modernizers” and their model of causal explanation by index had determined, for example, that only a country in which 10 percent of the population resided in cities could expect to “take off” in literacy. This minimum was also required for the takeoff of the media, which, from this threshold, could aspire to grow, in tandem with urbanization, up to 25 percent, and so on. They attempted as well to classify all the different “underdeveloped” countries according to these scales. The correlation between indices became the key. “Exposure to the media,” measured according to newspapers, newsprint, radios, and cinema seats per capita, was correlated with income per capita, the literacy rate, and the rates of urbanization and industrialization. From these emanated a strategy for change based on a charter of “minimal standards.” To escape from underdevelopment, a country had to possess, for each 100 inhabitants, at least 10 copies of newspapers, 5 radios, 2 television sets, and 2 cinema seats.13
All these indices and correlations were then assimilated by political scientists who derived from them models of “political development.” Urbanization was combined with literacy, exposure to the media, and voting participation. As British author Peter Golding, one of the sharpest critics of the various versions of modernization theory in communication studies, noted:
Peasants come to town, learn to read, study the newspapers, and vote wisely Political development is taken to be a dependent variable. Urbanization is not dependent on any other variable in the system. It is necessary to assume unidirectional causation…. What is political development? Indicators award points on the basis of reliance on political parties and free elections and on the number of political leaders out of office The other indices can also be criticized on the general grounds that they are devoid of any concern for content. Thus education is the number of pupils in schools, not a system of cultural transmission; mass communication is the number of radios, with no concern for their use. This weakness derives from the assumption that political development is a process of integration and social cohesion provided normatively by the existence of a communications network.14
The cascade of titles appearing on the theme of development or modernization in the first half of the 1960s reflects an intensification of the risks involved in this process. It now became impossible to defer the fight against underdevelopment, under pain of losing out to elites tempted by the model of violent revolution. At this point of no return, the question of development was posed as a problem of security. But this third term in the equation only rarely appeared in the writings of sociologists of development. In fact, it was only referred to openly by Lucian Pye, professor of political science at MIT, former intelligence officer in China, and most importantly, author of one of the first sociological analyses of modern guerillas, the movement led by communist forces against the British in Malaysia.15
Yet it is scarcely possible to understand the theory of modernization without this repressive side, that is, in close relation with the doctrines of counterinsurgency and national security. One reason is that in this period, during which modernization gave theoretical justification to the goal of development, it also legitimated the rise to power of the military in various countries. Between 1967 and 1972, the number of countries governed by military chiefs of staff more than doubled. It reached the point that the military caste appeared to several theoreticians of modernization as the group best suited to take up the challenge of development and of “nation-building.” In fact, a number of American political scientists centered their work around this notion in the 1960s. “Nation-building,” wrote one of them, “is presumably a metaphoric rubric for the social process or processes by which a national consciousness appears in certain groups and which, through a more or less institutionalized social structure, act to attain political autonomy for their society.”16 According to these sociologists, the army was cut out to be this chosen group on the level of national consciousness. Professional capability, equipment, manpower, systems of sanction, and models of emulation-all these assets made the army the best guarantor of the national project.
It was from this perspective that in 1961 Lucian Pye inaugurated, at the demand of the Pentagon, a series of studies that opened with this preamble: “There is urgent need for systematic research into potentialities of military establishments for guiding economic development and assisting in the administration of national policies.”17 In the same anthology in which Pye’s remarks appeared, another sociologist, J. J. Johnson, was even more blunt:
Only a few years ago it was generally assumed that the future of the newly emergent states would be determined largely by the activities of the Westernized intellectuals, their nationalist ruling parties, and possibly their menacing Communist parties Now that the military had become the key decision-making element in at least eight of the Afro-Asian countries, we are confronted with the awkward fact that there has been almost no scholarly research on the role of the military in the political development of new states.18
The most patent result of these appeals from the academic community was the preparation and publication, in the course of the decade, of an impressive series of monographs on military power in environments as different as Egypt, the Middle East, Brazil, Chile, Peru, and Indonesia.
In this stream of studies, the conceptual frameworks developed by Lucian Pye around “nation-building” were those that referred primarily to the media as the expression of the modernizing project. What is most noteworthy is his perspicacity in discerning the tensions inherent in the drive to modernize. Thus he wrote in a study on Burma: “At the heart of the problem of nation-building is the question of how the diffusion of the world culture can be facilitated while its disruptive consequences are minimized.”19
In the key year of 1961, President Kennedy persuaded Congress to vote the Foreign Assistance Act, which authorized the administration to aid programs of “civic action” undertaken by military authorities in the Third World. The Defense Department wrote this notion into its glossary the following year, defining it as “the use of preponderantly indigenous military forces on projects useful to the local population at all levels in such fields as education, training, public works, agriculture, transportation, communications, health, sanitation, and others contributing to economic and social development, which would also serve to improve the standing of the military forces with the population.”20 In fact, however, since many armed forces were caught up in counterinsurgency struggle, few of them assumed this new Good Samaritan role. The “civic action” through which the sorcerer’s apprentices of Pentagon-financed research tried to link, within legal bounds, military power and the civilian life of a nation, would later prove to constitute in many cases the first step on the path to the violent seizure of power.
The second reason why it is impossible to dissociate the modernizing strategy from the politics of security is that the heyday of the former is contemporaneous with the U.S. government’s Public Safety Programs. This phenomenon was depicted in the 1972 film by Costa-Gavras, State of Siege, which had been inspired by an authoritarian modernization project in Uruguay. The retraining of Uruguayan police forces took place under the aegis of the Office of Public Safety — launched by the Kennedy Administration — of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a division of the State Department. USAID sent experts and up-to-date equipment designed to counter the “internal enemy”; it also transferred knowledge through training programs in which courses on mass psychology, the pathology of insurgents, the use of photographic techniques in demonstrations and civil disturbances, and many other subjects found in no official university curriculum mobilized the knowledge and know-how of the sociology of communication.21
Finally, it may, be useful to remember that the military side of the strategies of modernization also manifested, near the end-that is, in the second half of the 1970s, before their total loss of legitimacy-moments of large-scale paranoia. How else can we understand the pouring of the most elaborate electronic and military aerospace technologies into the Shah’s Iran and its secret police, the SAVAK? In 1974-75, the export of weapons to this country, which the United States saw as an unconditional policeman in the Gulf, represented 40 percent of the total sales of the U.S. arms industry abroad. As a unique instance in the annals of the aerospace industry, the installing of Iran’s national system of satellites was not under the orders of either NASA or Comsat but the U.S. Air Force.
This was the case because, for the first and last time in a Third World country, the military uses of the system were to coexist with its civil functions, including the relaying of programs, data, and telephone conversations. U.S. strategists at the time considered it crucial to install a very important intelligence base, capable of tapping all electronic conversation in the Gulf region (project IBEX). Iran signed the “contract of the century” with an American firm for the modernization of its national telecommunications network. It was less than four years later, in 1979, that this technological megamachine under high military surveillance crumbled like a house of cards under the patient labor of the ayatollahs and their network of followers, armed with their audiocassettes.22
In August 1961, a brand-new program furnished the framework for an ambitious modernization project, this time a civilian one: the Alliance for Progress, an aid program for the “takeoff” of Latin American economies. A veritable Marshall Plan for development, its ambition was to create new forms of international cooperation with the countries of the hemisphere and new political formulas for accomplishing the “revolution of freedom” in order to counter the extension of Castro’s revolution, then in its triumphant stage. This pacific revolution claimed to break with the old U.S. tradition of support for traditional oligarchies and military dictatorships by supporting the rising middle classes.
While this offer of collaboration took as a priority the countries of Latin America, in fact the whole of the Third World was targeted by this philosophy of modernization. Its concrete effects were felt in three areas: family planning, rural innovations, and new educational technologies. In all these domains, the “diffusion of modern attitudes” was at the forefront.
If the order of the day in the 1960s was the fight against underdevelopment, it was also the struggle against the population explosion. In the minds of development strategists, the fate of the two were clearly linked. Efforts at economic takeoff would be in vain if, at the same time, one did not curb fertility rates in the Third World. Discussions became more and more frequent within various bodies of the United Nations, as aid organizations redefined the issue and the objectives of the struggle were more clearly focused. Public opinion was mobilized. In a New York Times article in April 1965 under the suggestive title “We Help Build the Population Bomb,” the agronomist William Vogt, veteran exponent of extreme methods, denounced what he saw as the pusillanimity of official U.S. policy: “We should provide active help in all aspects of birth control as freely as we now help to build steel mills or hydroelectric projects in foreign countries…. We can continue to follow our present path, increasing population pressures in much of the underdeveloped world. This is the way of disaster. Or we can make our aid programs truly helpful by including the one element-population balance-without which all the other economic factors are useless.”23
The position of the president of the United States at the time, Lyndon Johnson, was also unambiguous. In a statement given on the twentieth anniversary commemorative session of the U.N. General Assembly in June 1965, he stated: “Let us act on the fact that less than five dollars invested in population control is worth a hundred dollars invested in economic growth.”24 To accelerate the implementation of this policy, Johnson proceeded completely to recast USAID’s strategy in this area.25
The new charter that resulted, while stipulating that the organization would abstain from dictating policies and imposing choice of method, stated that USAID would consider all requests for cooperation concerning demographic studies, but also provide technical assistance, including the training of specialists in family planning. The great American educational foundations contributed substantially to this redeployment by bringing fresh funds and expertise. The Population Council, a private body founded in 1952 and subsidized by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, transformed itself into a logistical support center and a center for elaborating doctrines and strategies. The sociology of communication and demographic sociology (still called the sociology of population) contributed jointly to this enterprise.26
What was expected of the social sciences was first to prepare the ground for the adoption of this innovation by polling the target populations. This was the function of so-called AUK studies (Attitude, Use, Knowledge). Their aim was to measure the attitudes of the population toward the introduction of birth control techniques, then the knowledge that the target population had of such techniques, and, if applicable, the use they made of them. The sociologists in charge of these studies made no mystery of their philosophy of action. As J.M. Stycos of Cornell University wrote in the Public Opinion Quarterly:
The main function of these investigations is similar to any market study: showing that a demand for the goods and services exists, in this case, a demand for birth control. These studies represent, moreover, a way of beginning an action without attracting controversy. As well as supplying information useful for eventual future programs, the research itself stimulates the interest of people directly or indirectly implicated and can accelerate the whole policymaking process.27
In this research, as in all projects based on the principle and theory of diffusion, and following the techniques of advertising persuasion that it copied, the means by which an idea was disseminated from its source toward its final users was rigorously codified into stages: awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption or rejection.
The second function of the sociology of mass communications in the expansion of family planning was to furnish the programs with expertise on the most effective use of the media and the best motivational schemes for initiating the process of persuasion. The sociological literature of this period displays both naivete and cynicism in its massive adoption of modern sales techniques with a view to creating modern attitudes, particularly among women and men of the popular classes.28 What better symbol can be imagined than this: the sociologists of the Population Council believed in those years that there was no better reward for each convert to vasectomy in India than a transistor radio! The modernization cycle had looped around on itself.29
Despite this deployment of massive policies of birth control, the annual report of the United Nations on its population activities estimated in 1991 that if the decision were made to control the rate of population growth by the year 2000 - and that would mean not exceeding 6.4 billion inhabitants, one billion more than at the beginning of the decade - $4.5 billion would be needed.
It was thought that policies of modernization in the countryside could obviate more radical agrarian reforms, such as those involving redistribution of land. The “Green Revolution” came along at the right moment. Formally, it designated only a “genetic revolution”: by hybridization, American scientists, mobilized thanks to the financial support of the Rockefeller Foundation in particular, had obtained new and much more productive varieties of grain seeds, notably rice and wheat. But in the context of ideological competition, the “Green Revolution” was quickly converted into a slogan: against the so-called political solution, it offered a technical solution to a dangerous social problem. These new varieties of seeds, combined with an injection of new agricultural technologies, new chemical fertilizers, and new methods of irrigation, were presented as the best means of eradicating underdevelopment and hunger from the world. Several theoreticians settled down to the task and developed the theory of the spread of innovations, or “diffusionism.” Neither the term itself nor the theories date in fact from this period; they were intimately associated with classical ethnology in the last decades of the nineteenth century. German diffusionism, associated with Ratzel, and the British version, associated with the triumvirate of W. H. R. Rivers, Elliot Smith, and W. J. Perry, were at the center of the debate on the “mode of diffusion of progress,” on the laws of development or evolution conceived in terms of phases, on the “active” and the “passive” races, and more generally on the relations between the “developed” and the “primitive” models of civilization and culture. This debate referred back directly to the discussion of the concept of “imitation” in the work of the Frenchman Gabriel Tarde and his embryonic theory of the diffusion of cultural traits. In defining imitation as a spontaneous and irrational act that induces inferior individuals and classes to copy, or “ape,” their superiors and, above all, in defining imitation as the sole determinant of the social bond, several epigones of diffusionism had already revealed the elitist and ethnocentric premises of their work.
The major representative of the more recent incarnation of diffusionism was Everett Rogers of Stanford University, whose first book, The Diffusion of Innovations, was published in 1962, followed by Modernization among Peasants, published in 1969. In the latter, Rogers perfectly synthesized the concept of development that guided his concern about modernization. He wrote: “Development is a type of social change in which new ideas are introduced into a social system in order to produce higher per-capita incomes and levels of living through more modern production methods and improved social organization.”30 One cannot help noting once more the tendency to tautology peculiar to this current of thought, which, just as in advertising, finesses the definition of the “new” or the “improved” - or rather, takes them as given.
Rogers’s research covered all the fields of application of modernization, from family planning to technologies,31 but it focused above all on the peasantry. Consequently it belongs to a whole tradition of research in rural sociology that began in the United States in the 1920s and took off in the 1940s, and which chose to observe the process of adoption of technical innovations by farmers. Rogers’s work is one of the best illustrations of what happens when theories of persuasion by steps are extrapolated to contexts different from that of the United States. In fact, from these hypotheses he elaborated a typology of farmers (“innovators,” “early adopters,” “early majority,” “late majority,” and “laggards”).
In the 1960s, these axes of research influenced many rural development projects from Colombia to India. But they quickly became subject to criticism coming from this same Third World, criticism that extended to all the research deriving from the theory of modernization. The most judicious and constant objections came from sociologists specialized in rural communication and rural extension.32
In general, what the critics of the diffusion model refuted was its supposed neutrality and the three premises that legitimated it: that communication by itself engenders development; that growth in production and consumption of goods and services constitutes the essence of development and results in a just division of incomes and opportunity; and finally, that the key to increasing productivity is technological innovation, regardless of whom it benefits or hurts. When we take into account the power structure of the societies where this model was applied, the apparently unambiguous concepts of empirical sociology assumed another meaning: the obsession with the “individual” results in a neglect of the weight of social factors in decision making; the notion of “leader” conceals an elite or oligarchy; the “cosmopolitan” disguises the community of interest between rural and urban authorities; and the “reference group” dilutes the reality of relations of power and internal domination of which the peasantry was victim.33
This critical perspective is completely borne out by the numerous initiatives of “popular education” which, from the early 1960s, were undertaken in the Third World, notably the literacy experiments and the “consciousness raising” of the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. To the “banking” conception of rural extension Freire counterposed a “pedagogy of the oppressed,”34 which began from the concrete situation in which the learner lived and used it as a source from which knowledge progressively emerged, in a two-way encounter between teacher and learner.
This quest for popular participation in the process of development was so strong that it managed to unnerve some theoreticians of modernization before the 1970s were over.
“In a region like India where about three quarters of the adult population are illiterate-almost nine women in ten-and where a considerable number of people live in villages which are not easily accessible, it is not easy to transmit the idea of family planning on a vast scale.”35 This observation made in June 1966 by a U.N. Advisory Mission can be compared to one made by the Brazilian military regime that had taken power two years earlier, and which, by contrast, expressed less worry about family planning than about illiteracy as a burden on the country’s modernization project. For the Brazilian centurions, it was clearly unthinkable to take up the educational principles of a Paulo Freire — he had been forced into exile — which would have transformed literacy into a veritable national crusade. In order to be viable, this alternative would have required
the political mobilization of the popular classes. Freire’s popular pedagogy, after all, incited the learner to reappropriate his or her experience and history; it associated learning with apprenticeship and consciousness raising.
Instead, all hopes were placed in the early experiments in teaching by satellite, whose chosen territories were India and Brazil. Their immediate objective was summed up in the expression “communication for development”; their medium-term target was to transform these two pilot countries into a shop window for the application of space-age technology to the needs of the Third World.
In the protocol of the agreement signed in 1969 between New Delhi and Washington, NASA and the Indian Department of Atomic Energy gave themselves six years to get the experiment under way. The document stated explicitly that, by this means, India hoped to “increase agricultural productivity, support the aims of the family planning policy, and cement national cohesion.”36 In exchange for U.S. aid and scientific and technical support, India formally promised to “evaluate the results of the experiment and put them at the disposition of the entire world.” The accord even specified that the evaluation should be made wherever possible in quantitative terms, the aim being to evaluate family planning measured by birth rates, agricultural productivity, and the growth in incomes, comparing villages equipped with television with those that did not have this means of access to modernity.
To the strategists of space technology, India had seemed the ideal country for this type of experiment, since it had practically no television system-in fact, only one channel received by 10,000 sets — and 550,000 villages to be linked. The promotional literature for the project vaunted the enticing prospect that a satellite could complete in only 10 years a task that a conventional system would require 30 years to accomplish, and for an equal rate of annual investment.37 The experiment was dubbed SITE (Satellite Instructional Television Experiment) and made use of the American satellite ATS-6. It reached about 2,300 villages, belonging to six states, which were equipped with sets for collective viewing. Relayed by the satellite, SITE was inaugurated on August 1, 1976, and lasted one year. From the point of view of its original objective (“stimulating aspirations”), its results were modest: while the experiment favored national integration by subjecting all the receivers to the same programs, and while the participating teachers found in it an opportunity to escape their isolation and improve their teaching practice, the results in terms of improvement of agricultural practices and adoption of family planning turned out to be insignificant, according to numerous evaluations.38 The display window, once the project expired, lost its sparkle.
Between the agreement and its realization, even if partial, India had the opportunity to air its ambition to transform itself into a space and computing power. A year before SITE came to fruition, a Soviet rocket had launched its first satellite built by Indian engineers. In the late 1970s, Indian television opened up to commercial advertising and its profits shot up. The state proposed a plan under which industrialists could buy halfhour slots of airtime, in exchange for which they would sponsor a serial of 25-minute episodes and have the right to one minute of free advertising. “The first serials produced in these conditions,” recalled an Indian journalist, “especially Rajani (the portrait of a housewife who is a populist activist) had astounding success: the network was overwhelmed by sponsors’ demand.”39 The entertainment function of television gained more and more space, which it would share with video, catapulted into importance by pirating operations organized out of Singapore. In 1990, television would cover more than three-quarters of the territory and almost half the people would watch its programs and videotapes. Only AIR (All India Radio), which had gone from 90 stations in 1985 to 250 five years later (the first channel with a national reach had begun in 1988), continued to assume the educational role of the media.40 According to some, it is now even in a position to rival television’s information function, so strong is the gravitation toward entertainment in television programming.
The policy of modernization through satellite technology selected as another theater of operations one of the poorest regions of the federal state of Brazil, the Rio Grande do Norte. The central problem here, apparently, was catching up with remedial schooling: more than 40 percent of the school-age population did not attend.41
This project, under the direct supervision of the Institute for Space Research (INPE), one of the top institutions for technology policy in Brazil (thanks again to a hook-up with a NASA ATS satellite), was supposed to demonstrate on a reduced scale the effectiveness of a prototype of a “total system” for the use of audiovisual technology in primary education and to provide the example of an organizational model that could be generalized. Accordingly, responsibility for the project fell to specialists in systems engineering management. The specialists were sent to be trained in the space division of General Electric in the United States; they returned to Brazil with the idea that it was possible to transpose this mode of organization to the project in Rio Grande do Norte.
The pilot plan, dubbed SACI-EXERN and launched in 1974, was interrupted in 1977-78 on the official pretext that the cost of a future satellite would be too high. This incident pointed to the contradictions within the Brazilian state between telecommunication strategies, educational strategies, and scientific policy, not to mention the cleavages between civilian and military interests, particularly important in a regime identifying itself with “national security.” It meant above all the failure of a technocratic solution to the education question, a failure of what the Brazilian sociologist Laymert Garcia Dos Santos has called the “systemist approach,” carried away as it was by the “disorders of rationality.”
The duration of the project was nevertheless sufficient to allow one to observe the development philosophy that informed its experts, such as those from Stanford who from 1967 onwards traveled all over the world prospecting future markets, armed with attache cases containing copies of a report promising miracles: the ASCEND report (Advanced System for Communications and Education in National Development). As Garcia Dos Santos explains, “It is as if Stanford University were the nerve center where the promotion of teleducation satellites radiates forth to all continents, giving this promotion a scientific status and cultural credentials that feasibility studies from the laboratories of firms directly concerned in their manufacture could not claim to furnish.”42 And the same researcher gives the report the coup de grace: “What strikes the reader of this report is that it has none of the quality of university work, if one understands by this the discussion of the theoretical foundations of a line of reasoning and the effort to analyze and understand a given problem. The ASCEND report is, rather, a viability study whose main ambition is to sell a specific technology. Its authors say so openly: ‘Our aim is to show what must be done tomorrow with today’s technology so that every nation can incorporate it in its national development plan.’”43
This was not, however, the path taken by the Brazilian state. In 1977, relayed by the Intelsat satellite, the private television network Globo, through its educational foundation named after Robert Marinho, the president of the Globo multimedia group, inaugurated its programs of distance teaching, devoting its first daily broadcasting hours to remedial schooling. Globo progressively attracted sponsors as prestigious as the pharmaceutical firm Hoechst and the Banco do Brasil.44 In 1990, Brazil would be the home of the fourth largest network in the world, possess its own satellite system, and control a project for manufacturing its own space vehicles. But the 1980s ended with an alarming educational record: according to official figures, 42 percent of children left school before completing the primary level; a quarter of the work force consisted of children aged 10 to 14 earning a salary three times less than that of adults. In ten years, adult labor in the Northeast had grown by 12 percent, and that of children by more than 100 percent.
In view of these figures, one may better understand why some survivors of 1960s modernization theory dared to speak, two decades later, of the “revolution of rising frustrations.” There is no better way to grasp this than through Jean Baudrillard’s text on the “Cockaigne-land fantasies of the ideology of consumption,” written in 1968, at a time when empiricist sociology swore by modernization and democracy-by-consumption:
The excess of aspirations with respect to real possibilities reflects the imbalance, the profound contradiction, of a society in which the “democratic” ideology of social progress often comes to compensate for and overdetermine the relative inertia of social mechanisms. In other words, individuals hope because they “know” they can hope; they don’t hope too much because they “know” that this society in fact poses insurmountable barriers to free ascension; they hope nevertheless a little too much because they also experience a diffuse ideology of mobility and growth. The level of their aspirations therefore results from a compromise between a realism fueled by facts and an irrealism maintained by the ambient ideology-a compromise which in turn reflects the internal contradiction of the whole society.45
In 1976, the pioneer of diffusionism, Everett Rogers, hastened to bury the “dominant paradigm” and proposed to move beyond the ethnocentric vision that had guided him. Referring to Mao Tse-tung, to Paulo Freire’s “pedagogy of the oppressed,” and to critics from the Third World as well as the First, he admitted the bankruptcy of quantitative conceptions of development and of their communicational logistics, which had only succeeded in further unbalancing an already highly skewed social structure. The new definition of development advocated by the Stanford sociologist no longer had anything to do with the one he had formulated in the early 1960s. Development now became a “widely participatory process of social change in a society, intended to bring about social and material advancement (including greater equality, freedom and other valued qualities) for the majority of the people through their gaining greater control over their environment.”46
Rogers adhered all the more strongly to this new vision of decentralized development since it seemed to go naturally in the direction of prodigious expansion of light technologies that could only favor an interactive communication model, a “model of interpersonal networks.” Small is beautiful: thus he moved from the myth of heavy and vertical media apparatuses as the instigators of innovation to the myth of horizontal micromedia whose decentralized architecture favors the active participation of those interested in the adoption of novelty. It was one way of rejoining the debate then in progress on the general crisis of “development.”
Development, for whom, by whom, and why? In many places such were the questions raised about a mode of growth that had become an end in itself: “the accumulation of capital with a view to accumulating still more capital,” as Immanuel Wallerstein puts it. What began to be framed as a problem was the justification of this socially absurd objective by the long-term social benefits this kind of growth was supposed to procure. The biological notion of growth of the theoreticians of modernization and their “opinion leaders”-growth sustained by exponential rates whose circle of beneficiaries was assumed to continue expanding-was hereafter subjected to serious examination.
“Rely on your own strength” and mobilize local resources to satisfy local needs: such was the line of action proposed by the new philosophy of development to counter the earlier model, conceived as a movement of extraversion, powered by trade and transfers from the outside. This was the strategy of self-reliance.47At the heart of this quest was the rehabilitation of specific cultures in defining particular paths to development and the inclusion within the notion of “basic needs” of citizens’ participation in the production of society. It thus involved reflection on individual and collective solidarity at the local, national, and international levels.
Such a generous idea would give rise to numerous interpretations, inspiring as many state strategies as actions by civil society. Articulated for the first time in 1967 with the Arusha Declaration, the Non-Aligned Movement would adopt this idea three years later, seeing in it a means of correcting the deficiencies and the slowness in application of measures designed to institute a new world economic order. In incorporating it into their doctrine of development, the United Nations consecrated the concept of “endogenous” or “autocentered” development. This concept sparked innovative thought on the “industrial imperative,” on the modes of technology transfer, on the cultural models this presupposed, and on the margin of maneuver of a dependent country in its negotiation with the world-system.48 On the level of international cooperation, this concept would give rise to others, codevelopment and decentralized cooperation, for example-terms reflecting the attempt to define new forms of international relations between North and South. It gave rise as well to scenarios of development-participation that would mobilize, around concrete projects and situations, other actors (the informal sector, associations, local communities) than those enthroned by development-modernization.
Certain specialists of international communication, considering the margin for Third World countries to be too narrow, not to say nonexistent, would propose pushing the idea of autonomy to its extreme of autarky, postulating the necessity for countries of the periphery to “disconnect” or “dissociate” from the world-system.49 Unfortunately, they did not take into account the lessons of the tragic history of single-party states that chose to remove their peoples from the influence of international networks of communication.
E. M. Rogers and L. Svenning, Modernization Among Peasants: The Impact of Communication, New York, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969.
On the history of diffusionist theories in nineteenth-century ethnology, see R. Lowie, The History of Ethnological Theory, New York, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1937.
R. McNamara, *The Essence of Security**,* New York, Harper & Row, 1968, p. 149. On the genealogy of the concept of development, see S. Latouche, “Un concept a approfondir,” Options, no. 31, June 1990.↩︎
D. Lerner, The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East, New York, The Free Press, 1958.↩︎
Some excerpts from the archives of this research were published under the title “Survey of Communications Patterns in Jordan,” in A Psychological Warfare Casebook, ed. W. E. Daugherty and M. Janowitz, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1958.↩︎
See R. Samarajiwa, The Tainted Origins of the Communication and the Development Field: Voice of America and the Passing of Traditional Society, Department of Communication, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C., Canada, 1984.↩︎
D. C. McLelland, The Achieving Society, New York, Van Nostrand, 1961; L. Pye, ed., Communications and Political Development, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1963; W. Schramm, Mass Media and National Development, Stanford, Calif., Stanford University Press, 1964.↩︎
B. Hoselitz and W. Moore, eds., Industrialisation et societe, Paris, UNESCO, 1963.↩︎
J. Tunstall, The Media Are American: Anglo-American Media in the World, London, Constable, 1977, p. 208.↩︎
A. Inkeles and D. H. Smith, Becoming Modern, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1974.↩︎
M. Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. T. Parsons, New York, Charles Scribner, 1930.↩︎
I. de Sola Pool, “Le role de la communication clans le processus de la modernisation et du changement technologique,” in Industrialisation et societe, Hoselitz and Moore, p. 287.↩︎
W.W. Roscow, The Stages of Economic Growth, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1960.↩︎
Lerner, The Passing of Traditional Society, p. 47.↩︎
UNESCO, Mass Media in the Developing Countries, Paris, Paper no. 33, 1961.↩︎
P. Golding, “Media Role in National Development: Critique of a Theoretical Orthodoxy,” Journal of Communication 24, no. 3, Summer 1974, pp. 45-46.↩︎
L. W. Pye, Guerrilla Communism in Malaya: Its Social and Political Meaning, Princeton, Princeton Universiry Press, 1956.↩︎
D. Wilson, “Nation-Building and Revolutionary Wars,” in Nation-Building, ed. K.W. Deutsch and W. J. Foltz, New York, Atherton Press, 1963, p. 84.↩︎
L. Pye in The Role of the Military in Underdeveloped Countries, ed. J. J. Johnson, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1962, p. 69.↩︎
R. Moore, “Toward a Definition of Military Nation-Building,” Military Review, July 1973.↩︎
L. W. Pye, Politics, Personality, and Nation-Building: Burma’s Search for Identity, New Haven, Conn., Yale University Press, 1962, p. 13; see also L. W. Pye and S. Verba, eds., Political Culture and Political Development, Princeton, Princeton Universiry Press, 1965.↩︎
M. Klare, War without End, New York, Vintage, 1972, eh. 9 (“The First Line of Defense”).↩︎
H. Mowlana, “Technology Versus Tradition: Communication in the Iranian Revo lution,” Journal of Communication 29, no. 3, Summer 1979.↩︎
W. Vogt, “We Help Build the Population Bomb,” New York Times, April 4, 1965, Section 6, p. 120.↩︎
Public Papers of Presidents, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1966, vol. 2, p. 705.↩︎
Population Reference Bureau, Population Bulletin, Washington, D.C., vol. 21, May 1965.↩︎
See B. Berelson, ed., Family Planning and Population Programs: A Review of World Development, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1965.↩︎
J. M. Stycos, “Survey Research and Population Control in Latin America,” The Public Opinion Quarterly 28, Fall 1964, p. 368.↩︎
See, as an illustration, D. Bogue, “Some Tentative Recommendations for a ‘Sociologically Correct’ Family Planning Communication and Motivation Program,” in Research in Family Planning, ed. C. Kiser, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1962.↩︎
For a contradictory analysis of these policies, compare: N. J. Demerath, *Birth Con**trol and Foreign Policy: The Alternatives to Family Planning,* New York, Harper & Row, 1976; and B. Mass, Population Target: The Political Economy of Population Control in Latin America, Toronto, Latin American Working Group (LARU), 1976.↩︎
E. M. Rogers, Diffusion of Innovation, New York, The Free Press of Glencoe, 1962;↩︎
E. M. Rogers, Family Planning, New York, The Free Press, 1973.↩︎
R. H. Crawford and W. B. Ward, eds., Communication Strategies for Rural Development, Proceedings of the Cornell-CIAT 1974 International Symposium, Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell University, 1974.↩︎
L. R. Beltran, “Alien Premises, Objects, Methods in Latin American Communica tion Research,” Communication Research 3, no. 2, 1976.↩︎
P. Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, trans. M. B. Ramos, New York, Seabury Press, 1971.↩︎
“India: Report of United Nations Advisory Mission,” Studies in Family Planning, June 1966.↩︎
NASA, Memorandum of Understanding Between the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India and the United States, 1969.↩︎
A. Frutkin, “Space Communications in the Developing Countries,” in Communications Technology and Social Policy, ed. G. Gerbner et al., New York, John Wiley, 1973.↩︎
N. D. Jayaweera, Communication Satellites: A Third World Perspective, Report to the Seminar on New Technologies and the New World Information Order, Bonn-Bad Godesberg, 1982. Also, see the articles on the SITE experiment in the Journal of Communication 29, no. 4, Fall 1979.↩︎
V. Singh, “Arvin Shinde, le maharajah de la video,” Liberation, April 20, 1987.↩︎
J. Srampickal, “Are TV and VCRs Threatening Radio in India?,” Media Development, no. 4, 1990.↩︎
E. McAnany and J.B. Oliveira, The SACIIEXERN Project in Brazil: An Analytical Case Study, Paris, UNESCO, 1980.↩︎
L. Garcia Dos Santos, Les dereglements de la rationalite. Etude sur la demarche sys temique du projet SACIIEXERN, Paris, Universite de Paris VII, 1980 (doctoral dissertation in information and communication sciences under the supervision of A. Mattelart).↩︎
See M. and A. Mattelart, The Carnival of Images, New York, Bergin & Garvey (Greenwood Press), 1990.↩︎
J. Baudrillard, “La morale des objets,” Communications, no. 13, 1969, p. 31.↩︎
E. M. Rogers, “Communication and Development: The Passing of the Dominant Paradigm,” Communication Research 2, no. 2, 1976. By the same author: “The Rise and Fall of the Dominant Paradigm,” Journal of Communication 28, no. 1, 1978.↩︎
As an example, see J. Galtung et al., Self-Reliance: A Strategy for Development, London, Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications, 1980.↩︎
J. L. Reiffers et al., Societes transnationales et developpement endogene: Effets sur la culture, la communication, /’education, la science et la technologie, Paris, UNESCO, 1981.↩︎
See, for example, C. Hamelink, Cultural Autonomy in Global Communication, New York, Longman, 1983.↩︎